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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  May 20, 2017 4:30am-5:01am PDT

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good morning. coming up, breaking up is hard to do. the co-owners of this furniture company went their separate ways. find out how their reconciliation turned into growth for their company. plus, why love in business could be a heartbreaking success. that's coming up next on "your business."
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hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramburg. welcome to "your business." running a company can be exhausting and stressful. and people deal with this kind of pressure differently, which can make it tricky if you're in a partnership. the owners of a tennessee furniture company found themselves at a breaking point after the stress got to be too much. one partner decided to stay while the other decided to go. here is their story. ♪ is. >> you get burned. you have to step away or it will kill you. >> jess and nate were knee deep in the first year of their
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custom furniture company. and it was clear, their partnership wasn't working. >> there was a time when i was like, i'm fought going to lie partnership intraentertained tha of just, i don't care. burn the thing down, i don't care. >> they were friends who joined forces to run five string furniture in nashville, tennessee. it seemed to perfect. when they launched together, decisions were easy. it didn't take long to realize that wasn't going last. >> when you were a partner with someone in a business, you are essentially married to them to some capacity. it was instantaneous challenges. as soon as you are partners, you have that tension. >> we would have little tiffs, but we would work through them. >> that was in the beginning. soon, the small things started to feel bigger as more jobs came in. >> it becomes hard to talk to your partner when you're working 70 hours a week with them. >> jeff says works became all consuming, putting a massive strain on both of them. >> we had multi payments, shop rent, we had ourselves to pay, and we were learning a lot of
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lessons the hard way, by fumbling the ball and we lost some money. it can take away all the passion. it can take away all the love. >> their dream started to feel more like a nightmare. today, everything looks good for these two partners and their company, but get to go this point has been the biggest lesson of all. >> we had to go through some seriously dark stuff to get there. i didn't expect people to understand what was going on with us. >> nate was struggle, work/life balance. he started feeling anxious all the time about the custom commercial furniture brand. and so he made the hard wrenching decision to step away. >> nate just kind of looked at me and he's like, man, you know win just -- i don't know if i can do this any more. >> it was work and work. then work and work. i left to get a break. i left for money. i left for health insurance, you know, like all those things that seemed to be so hard to get when you're self-employed. >> nate remained a partner on paper, but he wouldn't make any
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money or be involved in the day-to-day operation. this was hard for him on a whole other level. >> you know how humiliating that is? you know how humiliating it is to -- to walk away from something that's been the only thing that you've talked about for two years and your identity is wrapped up in that with your friends, everyone in town. >> jeff decided to keep the company going. he still had faith in what they had set out to do. >> he chose to stay. he chose to do it. he chose to go through all that stuff because, for him, he saw something on the back end of that that was worth it. >> the two never really hashed out what went down between them. there was no promise that nate would ever come back and they barely talked about it. jeff coped with his loss by working even harder. >> at first, i was totally understanding and then, like, for a little while, i was grieving in a really weird way, like burying myself in work,
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taking on jobs i shouldn't have, hiring out aggressively. we went from zero employees to five employees in eight months. that's terrifying. >> with the work issues pushed aside, they remained friends and saw each other all the time. but with jeff feeling overworked, resentment was brewing. it all came out during a weekend away when a verbal fight nearly resulted in blows. >> we had never taken the time to explain to each other what we needed. and in doing so, we both became slightly resentful towards each other. and didn't care to learn what we needed. >> it had been almost two years since nate left the company and he was thinking of jumping into the industry again. >> i missed it. i was missing it the whole time. i just needed it to make sense in my life. >> but he didn't go to jeff with his idea because he didn't want five string to be burdened with his full time salary. >> that's when jeff lost it. he said why would you go and ask
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somebody else for work before you asked me? and i was like, well, i didn't think about it like that. i felt like i had always been trying to be sensitive to the fact that i left. always. it was probably the most intense argument we've ever had. >> it may have been brutal, but it did the trick. the two were ready to call a truce and get back to work. >> how does it bring us back together? it's airing out all on our dirty laundry in an aggressive way and i don't think it's as aggressive as it is passionate. >> each partner had to accept the baggage they brought with them. jeff was living in the past. he was holding a grudge against nate for leaving. he's like, you can't hold it over my head forever. either let it go or i'm out. and i'm thinking to myself, like, oh, man, like i'm holding on. like i'm so angry. like i think about it now .i was
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holding on. i was holding on for so long. >> and nate had to trust jeff as an equal and stop being controlling. >> when we first became partners, it was like, why are you doing it like that? do it like this. i assumed authority over him. and he was like, dude, leave me alone. i'm a business parts ner, too. how about you let me make some decisions and you is just trust me. and i'm like, mmm, you're right. you're right. sorry. >> today with, they focused on their strengths. with nate's return, 5 stwring is taki string is taking more work and making more money. >> you're functioning at 70% of your capacity. he focussing on a system that allows you to do 100%, you can make more money and do less work. >> they concentrate on what they do. >> jeff has to take care of jeff. nate has to take care of nate. if we're not doing that, might as well not even be in business. >> it is clear that your relationship with your co-founder or your senior staff
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will affect your business. but what a lot of us don't stop to think about until it is too late is that our romantic relationships can affect our company's, too. alfred edmond is senior vice president and executive editor at large for "black enterprise. he and his wife coauthored a book called "loving in the groan zone." you're talking about even more than that, what's going on at home, what's going on in your dating life or your business life. >> a lot of this comes from reading background or writing about as abdomen editor of studying black enterprise. most of the time when businesses get derailed, careers get derailed, fortunes get lost. a lot of times, it's not the result of a business career or financial decision. that while a lot is done about the pressures of starting a business and how that can constrain on your personal relationships, not a lot of people talk about how toxic
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relationships can undermine your ability to run, manage your business and it can have major negative consequences if you don't handle it properly. >> so let's talk about number one, avoid mixing business with your personal life. >> you need to approach, as an entrepreneur, people that you begin to establish relationships with in the same way that a single parent is very wary if they're being responsible of who they bring around their kids. is this person safe for me? are they safe for my kids? are they going to distract me from being an everybodyive parent? it's the same thing when you're run ago business? so don't share information in the beginning. >> don't share proprietary information. your first date may not be the time to tell them, listen, i'm about to come into several million dollars. you don't know if that person is safe for you. you don't know what their motives are, you don't know what their agenda is and being cavalier about that can cause major problems down the line. >> even if they aren't going to do something, right, there's
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nothing nefarious about it, you may have shared some financial information, you break up and you don't feel with it being out there. >> that's the thing. in the beginning of a relationship, nobody thinks it's going to go bad. but we know statistically most relationships are going to end and at least half of them probably aren't going to end well. so you're right, the person, when you start dating them, they don't automatically think i'm going to wreck there person's business, but dpengdz on how it ends and how people get emotional and sometimes vindictive or sometimes they're just hurt, you don't know. so, again, you want to protect your proprietary information about your business until you know who this person is and you've gotten an understanding of where the relationship is going. >> and keep your dating life separate from your business life. one is about who you date. the second is maybe just don't be talking about it at work. what does that mean? >> it has a major dilatorius effect. i'm thinking of a person i know who is a brilliant business
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leadser, but he still leads his personal life like he's a college frat boy. that's not good. you don't want your managers or coworkers talking about what happened last weekend or what showed up on insta fwram and not focus on who you are as their business leader who is setting the tone. it's important that you remember you're never really off or who you associate with when you're not at the office can have a direct impact as a perception as a leader in your company. >> and finally, let's talk about who you date. you've met a client and you're very attracted to her or him, should you be dating them orring there someone in your office, should you be dating them. and how do you, as a greeg business owner, deal with potential rules, policies around this? >> first of the all, we want to talk about the obvious stuff, how slippery the slope is from we're romantically involved to i'm being sexually harassed. even when you win a sexual
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harassment case, you'll spend over $100,000 in legal fees .other costs. when you lose, it can be six figures, seven figures, eight figures. so you have to think about that. what happens if it doesn't go the way we want it to go? the second thing is, is the person more important to you as a client, as an investor or as a love interest? so take a second, stop, think, figure out the best way to go about this .move forward. >> alfred, great conversation. thank you. >> my pleasure. it is a classic business disruption story of our time. in the same kay that uber shook up the tax industry, air bnb took on the hotel industry, offering guest bedrooms, vacation homes and offering customers new choices in lodging. willie geist sat down with brian chevski to talk about how you grew ab&b from a start-up with a set of air mattresses to a company that's now valued at $30 billion. >> this is literally just the
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beginning. >> how does a 35-year-old ceo with an estimated personal net worth approaching $4 billion travel the world? by crashing at other people's homes. >> hello. how are you doing? >> so you're actually staying in this air b&b rental? yeah, i'm here. this is a house in harlem. my girlfriend and mom were here last night and it's pretty cool. i've literally stayed at hundreds of them. at one point, i lived on the website. i gave up my home and we would go home to home. it's been a pretty amazing experience. >> air b&b began nearly a decade ago with three inflatable mattresses on the floor of brian's living room. today, the company has 3 million listing in 65,000 cities and 191 countries around the world. its valued at $30 billion. nearly twice the value of hilton worldwide. he grew up near albany, new
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york, the son of two social workers. from a young age, he was fascinated by improving things that just didn't seem right to him. >> these were peculiar interests. >> you think? >> yes. i guess i've always been obsessed with a better way to design something .probably first and foremost, a better way to desire community. >> long before he became one of the leaders of the new economy, chevsky was an artist, a hockey player, even a competitive body builder. if the modern play book for a start-up icon includes dropping out of an ivy league school, he took a different route. he spent college years at the rhode island school for design. there, he met joe gebia who later became one of three cofounders of air b&b. >> we always thought, design isn't how something looks. design is how something works. and we had this really simple idea. what if you could go somewhere and feel like you live there? >> that simple idea was born of
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necessity. chesky quit his design job and joined gebia in san francisco. between the two of them, they couldn't pay their first month's rent. >> it turns out that weekend, there was this international design conference. all the hotels were sold out and we had this idea, let's create a bed and breakfast for the design conference. we pulled the air beds on out of the conference, we inflated them and called it the air bed & breakfast. >> a light bulb went off, but early skeptics of their idea didn't believe people would invite strangers into their homes. in 2008, without big investors, they began covering their costs by selling breakfast cereal. >> and so joe and i and nate were totally broke. and one night we're in the late night in the kitchen we're like, we're air bed and breakfast. air beds aren't selling very well. maybe we'll go into breakfast cereal. we ended up selling barack obama themed cereal. we call it obama-os, the
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breakfast of cereal. we also did captain mccain's. that was how we funded the company. today we say we're cereal investors. a twist. >> their scrappiness caught the attention of one of the company's first investors right around the time the economy was crashing. >> we haven't made any money. paul graham said it's an investment nuclear winter and i'm looking for people who won't die. in fact, you guys are like cockroaches. you won't die. the idea literally spread city by city and block by block. >> with air b & b's rapid expansion from 120,000 listings in 2011 to 3 million today, regulators in many cities are struggling to handle the boom in short-term rentals. we're sitting in a beautiful home in new york city. yes. >> which is one of the many cities that's passed laws or regulations to try and restrict air b&b's opportunity to operate here.
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what is your answer to critics who say it's bad for affordable housing? >> the story of most people in our community is people that are average income who depends on the money to get by. and the average person is renting the home they live in. >> air b&b recently launched a new division called experiences. travelers can book a stay that comes with a local experience, like surfing with adventure man in l.a. finding zen in san francisco or learning from a samurai artist in tokyo. >> i think one of the things you and others have found was that especially younger customers are seeking these experiences. they don't want to accumulate things as much as life experiences. how did you tap into that? >> i think there was this shift that happened where when i was a kid, the american dream was to have like a nice house and two cars. i think the rise in social media changed it. suddenly people started valuing experiences more.
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>> a new experience launching the this month in new york, a partnership with an urban farm called harlem grown, rent a room and spend a day helping out. >> have you seen in your research, brian, that customers want more of this kind of experience? >> they don't want to just see the eiffel tower or the statue of liberty. they want to meet people like tony. you leave and the memories you have are of people. >> what do the next ten years look like for air b&b? >> we are going to design the end to end trip for you the travel is never really about where you go. it's about who you can become and the memories you can make. and i really want us to be in the business of creating these magical experiences, not just a place to stay. >> while we do not think you should obsess of what your competition is doing because you need to focus on your own company, you definitely have to know what they're up to. small gives you us
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five ways to track and monitor the other players in your industry. one, compare your seo efforts. do a google search using popular key words that relate to your business. is your company at the top or do you find your competitors constantly outranking you? it may be time to work on your website's seo if the latter is true. two, check out customer review sites. paifr pay attention to common complaints or compliments your competitors get so you can learn ways to improve your products or services. three, use google alerts. monitor and track specific companies or industries so you're always in the had know of the latest rerelated news stories. four, follow your competitors on social media. you can learn a lot about their strategies and subscribers by following them on twitter, facebook and linkedin. and five, buy from them. go the old fashioned way and do some hands on market research. check out their physical store, surf their site and chat with their service team to gather
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intel that could help you improve your offerings. still to come, how to attract qualified female candidates to traditionally male-dominated businesses. and a mother's day elevator pitch for a company that turns artwork into digital galleries and coffee table books. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order or expand your office and take on whatever comes next. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at
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we do a great job finding recruiting, training and keeping awesome people at our company, however, it's a traditionally man's job and we would like insight into how we could attract more women to the drain and sewer field. >> ellen, i love this question. i think it's important to leverage your personal brand. share your own story why you chose this business, this industry, why you love your company and share why it's so supportive of women in the workplace. i think if you share all these various aspects along with your culture, values, benefits why you're so supportive in the company specifically, you'll attract talent early on and do so on platforms on linkedin which are to help strengthen your value brand.
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>> i'm carolyn ceo of plum print. no more clutter, no more guilt. make it super easy for parents. you drop the originals in and ship it back. plum print then professionally photographs all the art and creates a custom book just for you. in addition, you get an online gallery of all your art, personalized products like throw pillows and note cards and you can share with family and friends. now, while we started with kids' artwork a broader market opportunity here preserving physical memories in a digital world. sports trophies, family history and more. overall, it's a $20 billion market and plum print's poised to really dommate the full service nation. we have product market fit and
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strong technology platform and now looking to scale the business into new markets and with new strategic partnerships. so, we're looking for a $500,000 investment in order to do so. to learn more, visit >> nice job. >> thank you. >> here you go. both of you. i need two numbers one to ten. what do you think of the product and then what did you think of the pitch? >> okay. so, on the product itself, i gave you a seven. i love it. it seems amazing and i totally get that you're targeting parents, but i have no idea how much it costs and so that's probably one of the big things i would want to learn more about. on the pitch, i felt like you gave a lot of interesting information on the background, but i would have wanted to know more about your background. i want to hear your story. i heard a little bit of traction, but i don't know your competitive advantage and i don't really know how you're reaching customers. so, it was a little bit lacking there, but the delivery was great and the numbers are still quite high. >> gene. you love this. you've got kids, right?
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>> i have boxes of their artwork. boxes and boxes. >> so, it makes total sense to me. i told you sometimes -- for the product itself, it's a ten. to me, i totally get it as a kid. every parent wants this. i agree with you 100% on the price. your pitch to me could be a lot quicker. it's so obvious what you're doing here, taking all the clutter and turning it into a book. to me if you charge 10 bucks in to do it, i'm in. if you charge a million bucks to do it, i'm out. >> what is the price? >> $85 for a soft cover and this book starts at $138. >> okay. so, that's something to consider. i think that's a really important thing to bring up when you make your pitch. pitch you have to incorp rat prices. >> what i like, you send the box. so, i don't have to deal with going to find something to put all their artwork in. anyhow, congrad lapgztulatiocon. thank you, both for giving your advice. always very helpful. we now have the top two tips
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you need to know to help grow your business. alicia and gene of the marks group are back with us. hello, back to the set now. >> hi, j.j. >> alisha, let's start with you, you are starting a new initiative to advise start. >> the point 25 initiative. >> what is one thing you would advise a growing business or a decisionmaker? >> my top tip is to think of every meeting as an opportunity. i say this because i work with a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders that go into the meeting and they're trying to pitch for the big contract and investment and if they don't get it, they walk away completely dejected and my whole thing is think about it in another framework. think about going into this meeting as an opportunity to learn. as an opportunity to build a relationship. so, whether you get the contract or not, if you've gone into the meeting and you've researched the person and maybe you asked some advice and maybe you thought about who they could potentially introduce you to, regardless of the contract,
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you're getting value. opening a dialogue. sometimes, if you're building a relationship, if you come out of that meeting and that's what you have in tact, that could be more valuable in the long run than just like closing the deal. >> and, by the way, you can't always close the deal and often deals are done because of relationships. when i started my company, we wanted to martnpartner with thi company and they said, no, no, no but through my talking to this woman, she learned i was an expert in the field. when people would pitch her, she would start coming to me to get my advice on it. it took 3 1/2 years, but finally they worked with us. but through that time she realized, oh, okay, the woman knows what she is talking about. >> the connection became more. >> gene. >> my tip today has to do with ransomware. anybody has been hit by ransomware, an attack. >> i have been hit by something. >> it is like a huge thing that is going to affect millions of small businesses around the world. it's a billion dollar industry.
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you have somebody in your company or yourself and you inadvertently download a file and click it and launch it or go to a website that is a malicious website and you don't even know it. hit the wrong thing and it launches, basically, a virus on your computer and what it does, it attacks all the files on your network and it encrypts them. locks them down and then you get this horrible-looking message that says, you have to pay us a ransom if you want the unlock key to unencrypt these files. by the way, the ransom has to be paid in like bit coin or digital, i don't have any bit coins on me to show you guys. it's a really bad thing. if you pay the ransomware you're paying it to some person that you're hoping they will give you the key. you pay them and then -- >> you have officially scared us. >> big issue this year. >> it will affect a lot of businesses. three things you can do. talk to your i.t. firm this year and make sure you have the best
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security software. train your people to make sure they are doing what they have to do to alert themselves if anything looks kind of funny. get online backup software. that is the big trend this year. great companies doing it. carbonite is one and microsoft has products, as well. that way, if you get hit by a ransomware attack, basically, fine, we'll restore from our last good backup. >> thanks both of you. >> thank you. this week yourbizselfie owner of firehouse coffee in allentown, pennsylvania. he saw his fellow firefighters, police officers, nurses and ems workers fueling themselves on bad coffee. he wanted none of it. he decided to create a great tasting gourmet brew just for them. it is so much fun for me to see all the companies you're all running. so, please send me photos. take a selfie of you and your business and send it to yourbusiness at or tweet it to your msnbc/yourbiz
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and use the #yourbizselfie. if you have any questions or comments about the show, e-mail us at you can also go to our website, we posted all of the segments from today's show plus a whole lot more for you. don't forget to connect with us on all of our digital and social media platforms, as well. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order
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or expand your office and take on whatever comes next. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at good morning, everybody. i'm thomas roberts here in new york. it is 8:00 a.m. in the east and day 121 of the trump administration and we have breaking news from abroad as president trump is attending this elaborate arrival ceremony starting just a short time ago in saudi arabia. this is the kickoff destination to his first foreign trip and the big questions remain, what message will he be sending and how might it affect the troubles he has at home. all of this amid other breaking news stories out of washington. including new word on james comey. details on when the fired fbi director will testify in public about the russia investigation. and a new bombshell report


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